Jan 12, 2016

Collection of Chaos- Book Review

Author: Tikuli
Foreword by Kris Saknussemm 
Publisher: Leaky Boot Press

My Rating: ****
Available at: 
And all major online book sellers.

About the Author:Brought up in Delhi in a family of liberal educationists Tikuli is a mother of two sons. She is also a blogger and author. Some of her short stories and poems have appeared in print and in online journals and literary magazines including Le Zaparougue, MiCROW 8, Trobadour 21, The Smoking Book (Poets Wears Prada Press, US), The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Mnemosyne Literary Journal, Women's Web. Some of her print publications include poems in Guntur National Poetry Festival Anthology and much acclaimed Chicken Soup For The Indian Romantic Soul, Melange,and kaafiyana. Her work has also been featured on websites related to gender issues and child sexual abuse.

This Book Review was first published at DIFFERENT TRUTHS

We were all taught nursery rhymes at kindergarten and we grew up learning poems by heart but how many of us really found expression for our feelings in verse? Poetry is the voice of a soul. It cannot be adopted. It's born, somewhere deep in the warm cockles of the heart. Poetry is a maze of words, with routes going into and out of the heart.

I am glad I came across Tikuli's Collection of Chaos. And I am even happier that this will be the first collection of poems that I've read in 2016. I'm delighted with this book of verses because they are straight from the heart and yet the fluent poems are made of words that have been intelligently woven together. I have been reading Tikuli's poems and Haikus for almost a decade now and her inimitable style of saying so much within a few lines, a handful of words continues to enthrall me.

I have somehow always related the reading of poetry with the first rains that mark the beginning of the season- petrichor! And Tikuli also uncannily opens the collection with a beautiful simile to describe the predominant emotion that mingles with the petrichor, by saying,
'The solitude
the smell of rain
slaking the parched earth.'

Tikuli's collection of poems are a deluge of emotions, each separate piece a heavier thought than before. Her words definitely come from a lifetime of myriad experiences and jarring observations, from changing times. From the little understanding that I have of poetic meters and such, Tikuli has ventured to utilise very different forms of poetry, and yet maintained her voice in it. She has given expression to a whirlwind of emotions and yet Tikuli manages to maintain order in the usage of correctly chosen words.

While one poem is a poignant reminder of 'The Stoning of Soraya M.- a 2008 American Persian-language drama film; another describes mindless Indian rituals, and there are those poems that give us a heart-wrenching peek into the minds and lives of woebegone, torn women.

There's also a fresh whiff of romance now and then. My favourite being this short verse that captures a memory so skillfully.
At dawn
I gather the scent of the night jasmine
And with it
The scent of you
Encased between the white
And the vermilion

However while I kept sailing from one poem to the next, what I found sorely amiss was a befitting title for each piece. Or maybe that would be a stereotypical packaging for presenting one's gift to the world. I suppose Tikuli prefers to leave each story told between the rhyming lines, to grow on the reader and take on a title or maybe a moral of its own, as per the reader's personal connect with the piece?
Took me around, two days to finish reading each of the poems, couplets, verses and haikus. And I am a slow reader. I like to roll the words on my tongue as I read, feel their weight, wait for it to travel down and sink in. And that's appreciating poetry for me, much like enjoying the whiff and roll of a good wine.
If I'm not wrong, there are around 90 pieces in the book of 124 pages. And there is a different shade of known and unknown emotions to read about.

In the foreword given by Kris Saknussemm, the poetess is aptly described as a 'student heart', for she really seems to be curious and readily imbibing all the goings on around her.

Quoting Kris Saknussemm-
"Innocence isn’t something we begin with and then gradually lose through the
hardships of life experience, it’s a perspective and a state of mind
we may achieve—through perseverance, humility, and an unquenchable
curiosity about the world."

There's one more poem from the Collection of Chaos that brought a smile to my face. There couldn’t have been truer words.

Fantasy is reality
reality is fantasy
and in between
there is a poet
on a Ferris wheel

* This review has not been requested by the author and is a genuine book review for my blog's followers, posted at my own free will. 

I have read and reviewed this book as a part of my #BrunchBookChallenge for 2016. This book also checks off as Book#3 as per my  own Book Reading/Reviewing Challenge 2016

Jan 11, 2016

Book Reading/Reviewing Challenge 2016

This brand new year 2016 has brought with it an increased fervour to read more and varied books/authors. I have therefore been picking up book challenges that are doing the rounds on the virtual social circuit.

One of them being the Brunch Book Challenge Part-3 (Indian Writing Special  launched on twitter by Hindustan Times - HTBrunch. the target is to read 24 books this year. I'd read 20 in 2015, so a plus four seems extremely doable. 

However I came across another kind of book challenge on Facebook that specifies what kind of books to cover, and then I had this 'Aaha!' moment. That was just the thing I was looking for. 

I think I want to take the #BookBrunchChallenge a bit further by zeroing down on what kind of books will be included therein, ie. a list of the 24 books. Not the titles but the genre or what they mean to me. 

In the #BrunchBookChallenge I will read and review 24 books that tick off one of the following criteria each:-

1. Book of my most favourite genre
2. Book of my least favourite genre
3. A book of poetry
4. A book I've been meaning to read
5. A book you previously abandoned
6. A book I own but have never read
7. A book that intimidates me
8. A book published this year
9. A book recommended by an author/librarian/friend
10. A book I should have read when in school
11. A book published before I was born
12. A book that was banned once upon a time
13. A book you've already read at least once
14. A National Book Award winner
15. A book that has been adapted into a movie
16. A humorous book
17. An autobiography
18. A travelogue/a book based on a road trip
19. A book by an internationally acclaimed author
20. A book translated from a regional language
21. A book of collected short stories
22. A self-improvement book
23. A non-fiction book
24. A romantic bestseller

By the end of 2016 I hope to have checked off all of the above books, not necessarily following the same order.And I also hope to be able to review each of these books too..

Do please leave a suggestion in the comments, if any!

Jan 5, 2016

Emperor's Riddles - Book Review

Book Title: The Emperor's Riddles
Author: Satyarth Nayak
Publisher: Amaryllis
My Rating: ***1/2
About the Author:
Satyarth Nayak is an author, script-writer & journalist based in Delhi. Holding a Masters Degree in English Literature from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, writing has always been a prolific passion. His short story ‘Eve’ won the prestigious British Council Writers Circle Prize in 2006. 

The grand new year 2016 begins and I am posting the very first book review of the year. Now you may wonder why I refer to this year as 'grand' already? It is the effect of this book, I say! Open your eyes and see the numerology.
I have always been a great fan of the esoteric. The mystery and magic, the aura wrapped around it intrigues me to bits. So did this book with it's opening chapter that heightens the importance and the enigma around the magic number NINE!

Would you have imagined that it carries an ancient enigma so powerful that even gods would kill for it?
There have been not one but a string of savage murders!
Renowned historian Ram Mathur's face is carved with the symbol of an AUM on one cheek, an eye gouged out with acid but he still dies on the ghats of the mighty river Ganga with a beatific smile pasted on his face. What happens next is not only the investigation of the case by police officer Parag Suri but also Mathur's only daughter Sia's desperate quest to track the murderer. Sia believes her father had preempted his sordid end and indicated that she seek help from esoteric writer & friend -Om Patnaik. 

Except for the earliest gory description of Mathur's murder, there's no more gore as the book progresses. However, what follows is quite a brain wracking series of poetic riddles. Sia and Patnaik have set off to hunt the perpetrator down but find themselves traveling all over India, solving one puzzle after another set before them by a mysterious order. The settings are all icons from Indian history, the background of the nine primeval sciences that take the reader through multiple thrilling facts and figures. The storyline however is a strong reminder of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.

How Satyarth Nayak's book stands out for me from it's foreign predecessor is the narration of a parallel story within the same novel that's about an emperor who's story also links in with the same enigma that has our protagonist duo in a quandary.

My favourite character in the book is that of the grey haired Jasodhara with her OCD for a dust-free home. She seems to have drunk up Indian history like a vial of potion for she's like a walking talking encyclopedia! Jasodhara plays a pivotal role in solving the puzzles to the enigma, rattling off facts and figures faster than any one could ever expect. 

The only downside of this murder mystery for me is that that author has not given importance to descriptions and development of the primary characters. Everything is happening just too fast for me to swallow and digest. How I wish he had taken his time to unravel each puzzle, let Sia and Patnaik bond a little more through their struggle and strife. The present treatment leaves me pandering for more thrill and passion in the folds of the storytelling. 

Satyarth Nayak's The Emperor of Riddles flaunts the high praise received from my favourite author Ashwin Sanghi on the cover, and Nayak's style of writing also kept reminding me of the latter's style of narration too. 

To sum it up, this is definitely a great one time read for murder mystery lovers but for lovers of history there's a whole lot of thrilling facts to visit and revel in. Take a peek into the mind of a knowledgeable and intelligent Indian writer who shows much promise for the future of Indian literature. 


I received an author signed copy of this book as a prize for winning a short story writing competition organised in the last quarter of the bygone year. Satyarth Nayak's handwritten a sweet message to me probably after reading my story that was based on Buddhist mythological story- Angulimala which has also found mention in his book. He writes, "For reimagining, reinterpreting,retelling, reaffirming."
Thankyou for the inspiration Satyarth Nayak and also for penning such an entertaining novel. 
Kudos and good wishes for you too!

* This review has not been requested by the author and is a genuine book review for my blog's followers, posted at my own free will. 

I have read and reviewed this book as a part of my #BrunchBookChallenge for 2016. This book also checks off as Book#1 as per my  own Book Reading/Reviewing Challenge 2016